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British Institute of Persian Studies 


Author(s): Akira Tsuneki, Mohsen Zeidi and Katsuhiko Ohnuma 

Reviewed work(s): 

Source: Irán, Vol. 45 (2007), pp. 1-22 

Published by: British Institute of Persian Studies 

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By Akira Tsuneki, Mohsen Zeidi and Katsuhiko Ohnuma 

University of Tsukuba, Iranian Center for Archaeological Research, Kokushikan University 


The Eastern Zagros region has not previously been considered in the study of Neolithisation in the Near East. Our 
recent research, which was carried out as one of the salvage projects in the Bolaghi valley, Fars, sheds new light in 
this area. Two cave sites were excavated and both sites produced a considerable amount of lithic artefacts. They show 
a coherent assemblage which appears to dáte to some point within the "Proto-Neolithic" framework of the Zagros 
region. Though the subsistence remains háve not yet been fully studied, our evidence may bridge the hiatus between 
the end of the Epi-Paleolithic and the beginning of the Portery Neolithic in the Eastern Zagros. 


Proto-Neolithic; Eastern Zagros; the Bolaghi valley; lithic artefacts; Neolithisation. 


The study of the transition from the Epi-Palaeolithic to 
the Neolithic is very significant in human history 
because it deals with the shift from food gathering to 
food producing societies. Most of the archaeological 
research on this transition has been carried out along the 
hillsides of the Fertile Crescent in the Levant, southern 
Anatolia, northern Mesopotamia, and the western 
Zagros Mountains, and areas peripheral to this háve 
received little attention. Although the natural 
environment is not so different from that of the western 
Zagros, the eastern Zagros Mountains is one of these 
latter areas. Many Epi-Palaeolithic caves and shelters 
and Pottery Neolithic settlements háve been discovered 
and registered in Fars province, especially in the 
Marvdasht plain (e.g. Rosenberg 1985; 2003; Alizadeh 
2006). However, sites dating between the Epi- 
Palaeolithic and Pottery Neolithic periods háve not 
previously been reported. The fact that this transition era 
is still unknown in Fars province suggests that the 
eastern Zagros did not play a role in this transition. 
However, our recent investigations háve revealed the 
existence of occupation that may dáte to this transition- 
al phase in this region. We tentatively call this transition- 
al period the "Proto-Neolithic". A suitable defmition for 
this period in this region has not previously been 
proposed and here, this term is ušed to indicate a 
chronological phase and does not suggest the existence 
of domestication. 

Our investigation was carried out as one of the 
salvage projects in the Sivand dam area (ICAR 2006). 
The new Sivand dam has been constructed at the 
southern end of Darr-ye Bolaghi, which is one of the 
small basins in the eastern Zagros Mountains. The dam 
site is about 30 km. north-east of Persepolis and about 
12 km. south-west of Pasargadae (Fig. 1). A narrow 
valley, named Tang-i Bolaghi, and most of the other 
parts of this small basin will be flooded by the construc- 
tion of this dam. Hereafter, we refer to both the valley 
and basin together as the Bolaghi valley. We carried out 
the first seasoďs investigations from mid-July to the 
beginning of August 2005. Although we conducted 
some surveys during our first season of investigations, 
we report here only the operation of the excavations at 
two caves that produced relevant materials. 

The sites within the dam area were initially surveyed 
and numbered by Mr 'Atai and ICAR from BV1 to 
BV129 (' Atai 2003; as directed by the Iranian Center for 
Archaeological Research the site codes háve now been 
changed from BV to TB = Tang-i Bolaghi). Most of the 
sites were cairns, open-air sites, and sites with evidence 
of metallurgic activity, and dáte to the Achaemenian, 
Sasanian and early Islamic periods. Although some 
sites dáte back to the Chalcolithic period, very few 
prehistorie open-air sites were discovered. We concen- 
trated our attention on the caves and shelters along the 
skirt of the surrounding mountains. Within the dam area 
many caves and shelters were recognised. Based on the 
results of our initial short visit, we chose two cave sites, 





Sa adatabad 




Persepolis A. 
Táli Bakun A 



Fig. 1. Tang-i Bolaghi and its neighbouring area. 



A caven and aheller* 

# openair sítes 

■ graves 

x meteílurgic spots 


Fíg. 2. Sivand dam salvage area, showing important archaeological sites (afíer 'Atai 2003). 


Fig. 3. Distant view ofTB75. 

Fig. 4. Outlook from TB75. 

TB75 and TB130, for the fírst seasoiťs excavations. 
Although TB75 was already known, TB130 is a newly 
discovered site that was identifíed by us. Both TB75 and 
TB130 are located on the southern slope of Kuh-e 
Bolaghi Bozorg, along the northern fringe of the 
Bolaghi Valley (Fig. 2). The distance between these sites 
is less than 2 km. The excavations unexpectedly 
produced fruitful results, and shed new light on the 
prehistory in the eastern Zagros region. 


Site TB75 is a limestone cave that opens to the South- 
west. The cave is known locally as Eshkaft-e Háji 
Bahrami. It is the most conspicuous cave in the Bolaghi 
valley, and comes into view immediately as you enter the 
valley fřom the south (Fig. 3). From the cave location, 
the centrál part of the Bolaghi valley is visible with a 


Fig. 5. Morphological 



partial view of the south (Fig. 4). The altitude of the 
entrance to the cave is 1875 m. (Fig. 5). The opening 
measures c. 9 m. wide and 2.8 m. high, and the depth to 
the back of the main chamber is 19 m. Beyond this, the 
cave continues and climbs to the west, more than 15 m. 
(Fig. 6). The front terrace runs down to the small wadi, 

named Tang-e Jilli. The height difference between the 
cave and the wadi is over 30 m., and the terrace slope is 
relatively steep, having an angle of 20°. The large 
limestone rocks that háve fallen down from the rear 
limestone mountain are distributed on the terrace slope. 
Islamic period potsherds and flint artefacts are scattered 

Fig. 6. CaveofTB75, 


within the cave and on the terrace slope. In order to 
clarify the cultural sequence both within and outside of 
the cave, a small trench, measuring 2 x 1 m., was dug in 
each location (Fig. 5). 

II. 1. Trench A 

A 2 x 1 m. trench was dug inside the cave, close to the 
front. The trench was located c. 2 m. inside from the line 
of the opening eaves and c.1.5 m. from the western wall 
of the cave (Fig. 6). The trench was excavated to a 
maximum depth of 1.5 m., but we did not reach the 
bedrock at this depth. Though the cultural deposits were 
divided into nine layers, they could be summarised into 
the following three cultural phases. The uppermost 
phase, consists of a series of ashy and brown soil layers 
0.3 m. thick, and produced some Islamic glazed ware 
sherds, that most likely belong to the Islamic period. A 
hearth surrounded by cobbles was the only solid feature 
in this phase. The middle phase consists of many burned 
and grey soil layers, of about 0.2 m. in thickness. Some 

deep pits were dug from the level of this phase into the 
underlying deposits. These pits produced a great amount 
of materiál that dates from the Achaemenid era. The 
lowest phase, lower than the 0.5 m. from the surface of 
the cave floor, produced only prehistorie materials, 
especially lithic artefacts that were very similar to those 
found from Trench B. The characteristics of these lithic 
artefacts show that they belong to the period between 
the end of the Epi-Palaeolithic and the beginning of the 
Pottery Neolithic, i.e. the "Proto-Neolithic" as defmed 
here. No potsherds were recovered in these lowest 

112. Trench B 

Another 2 x 1 m. trench, sunk in the middle of the 
terrace slope, was dug 36 m. from, and along, the north- 
south axis of Trench A, between the 1863 m.-l 862.5 m. 
contour line (Fig. 5). We reached the bedrock at 1.35 m. 
below the slope surface on the northern side of the 
trench and at 0.95 m. on the southern side. Therefore, 


Surface layer 




1862. 50m 


Fig. 7. Eastern section of Trench B at TB75. 


the cultural deposits are about 1 m. thick in this part of 
the terrace slope. The deposits could be divided into 
three layers based on the colour and conditions of soil 
(Fig. 7). The uppermost, Layer 1, is ashy brown, 
measuring about 0.3-0.4 m. thick and containing 
whitish ash. The next layer (Layer 2) is 0.2-0.3 m. thick 
and is a reddish brown deposit, containing limestone 
pebbles. A crude floor-like feature made of limestone 
pebbles was observed at the bottom of this layer. 
Although the limestone pebbles are quite sparse for a 
stone floor, the terrace was partly levelled at the floor 
level, indicating that this structure seems to háve been 
cultural. The lowest layer (Layer 3) is a red-brown soil 
with many limestone pebbles. It is the thickest deposit, 
about 0.4-0.5 m. thick, accumulated on the bedrock soil. 
Large pieces of limestone were spread unevenly 
throughout the deposit. Except the crude floor in Layer 
2, no other structural remains were discovered. 

II. 3. Cultural Finds 

In Trench A, the uppermost phase produced a limited 
amount of Islamic glazed ware potsherds. The second 
phase produced a great amount of large Achaemenid 
storage jar fragments. These jars háve an orange-red 
fabric, and are grit and grog tempered, well fired, and 
sometimes háve a grey slip on the exterior surface. 
Some body sherds háve raised decoration. The lowest 
phase did not produce any potsherds. Fourteen 
potsherds were recovered from Trench B, and all of 
them came from the surface and Layer 1. Although 
some of them were prehistorie potsherds, most 
specimens were historie, especially Achaemenian. The 
number of potsherds is quite small, particularly 

compared with lithic artefacts recovered. It seems 
likely that Layer 1 contains materiál that has been re- 
deposited from higher up the slope. However, Layers 2 
and 3 contain only "Proto-Neolithic" artefacts. It means 
that these layers were the originál deposits or if re- 
deposition oceurred, it oceurred during the Proto- 
Neolithic period. 

Trench A and B produced many lithic artefacts, 
whose characteristics are quite similar. The former 
produced 270 pieces and the latter produced 1583 
pieces. Various kinds of green, grey, black and red 
chert-like flints were ušed as raw materials. A small 
number of obsidian microblades were also discovered, 
however no obsidian cores or débitage were found. The 
total amount of lithic artefacts unearthed from TB75 is 
summarised in Table 1. The most numerous chipped 
stones are microblades, measuring 2-5 mm. wide and 
less than 30 mm. long (Fig. 8: 1-3). Most of them háve 
minuté retouch or nibbling on one or both sides. This 
evidence indicates that these tiny microblades were 
ušed as elements of composite tools. Dozens of 
microblade cores were discovered from both trenches. 
They show various stages, from the initial pebbles to 
the finál discarded cores. The most prevalent core types 
are single platform conical and prismatic shaped cores 
(Fig. 8: 5), regularly detached by pressure-flaking. In 
addition to cores, microblade core rejuvenation flakes, 
such as core tablets and bottom flakes, were frequently 
recovered. The presence of so many cores makes it 
likely that a large number of microblades were manu- 
facrured at TB75. The tools made from blades include 
backed pieces (Fig. 8: 4), notches (Fig. 8: 6), burins 
(Fig. 8: 7) and geometrie microliths. For the production 
of larger and heavier tools, such as end-serapers (Fig. 8: 
8) and thumbnail-scrapers (Fig. 8: 9), both flakes and 

TABLE 1. Total Amount of the lithic artefacts unearthed from TB75 and TB130. 


Trench A 

Trench B 


Trench A 
Trench B 
Trench C 
Trench D 
Trench E 

1.853 pieces 

Surface (11), Layer 1 (4), Layer 2 (4), Layer 3 (0), Layer 4 (2), Layer 5 (3), 

Layer 6 (0), Layer 7 (141), Layer 8 (47), Layer 9 (58) 

Surface (3), Layer 1 (31), Layer 2 (404), Layer 3 (1,145) 

3.419 pieces 


Surface (83), Layer 1 (14), Layer 2 (41), Layer 3 (73), Layer 4 (403) 

Surface (2), Layer 1 (6), Layer 2 (116), Layer 3 (215), Layer 4 (238)? 

Surface (25), Layer 1 (145), Layer 2 (524), Layer 3 (492) 

Surface (90), Layer 1 (473), Layer 2 (410), Layer 3 (67) 



1.1 fi 


i ' r 

5 cm 


Fig. 5. Zií/iic artifacts from TB75 (1-5, 8: Trenek A—lowest phase, 6-7, 9: Trenek B—layer 3, 10-11: Trenek B—layer 2). 


blades were ušed. Pointed pieces (Fig. 8: 10-11) were 
also discovered, although the number is quite limited. 
The inventory of lithic artefacts from Layers 2 and 3 of 
Trench B is shown in Table 2. It is immediately evident 
that microblades and the by-products of microblade 
manufacture comprise the majority of the chipped stone 
industry. The characteristics and chronology of this 
industry will be discussed below. 


Site TB130 is located about 1.5 km. south-east of 
TB75. This shelter opens to the south-east and the view 
from the cave is much less open than TB75. The 
altitude of TB130 is 1848 m. and the height from the 
wadi bed is about 30 m. (Figs 9 and 10). The depth of 
TB130 is not so great. The shelter is 9 m. wide by 6 m. 
deep, and the height of the opening is about 9 m. (Fig. 
12). The front terrace is steep like that of TB75, but 
relatively thick unnatural deposits were observed on the 
slope. Many small chipped stones were scattered on the 
terrace surface between the shelter and the wadi, and 
they indicated the existence of Epi- 
Palaeolithic/Neolithic cultural layers. One 2 x 2 m. 
trench (A) was sunk inside the shelter, and two 2 x 1 m. 
trenches (B, C) were sunk in the middle of the terrace 
slope along the north-south axis. Another 2 x 1 m. 
trench (D) was sunk 4 m. east of Trench B. As we 
discovered part of a stone floor in this trench, another 2 
x 1 m. trench (E) was dug just north of Trench D. 

Therefore, the total excavated area measures 12 m. 2 . All 
of these trenches, except Trench A, produced a consid- 
erable number of chipped stones. 


A 2 x 2 m. trench was dug near the back of the shelter. 
However, we reached bedrock at a depth of only 0.3 m. 
from the shelter floor. The trench was full of white grey 
soft ash, modern animal dung and limestone pebbles. 
We did not find any archaeological objects in this 
trench, except a few modern potsherds. Therefore, we 
can conclude that either the shelter was only ušed by 
modern sheep herders, or that the old cultural deposits 
háve been completely eroded away from the shelter. 

IV 1. Trench B 

A 2 x 1 m. trench was sunk into the middle of terrace 
slope at 1832.8-1832.2 m. altitude. The thickness of 
cultural deposits was about 0.7-0.6 m., and we reached 
the reddish terra-rossa brown virgin soil at an altitude of 
1832.2-1831.5 m. The deposits consist of four layers 
(Fig. 13). The uppermost layer below the surface is a 
grey-brown layer, followed by a whitish limestone 
pebble layer, a grey ashy layer, and finally a reddish 
grey layer which is above the natural deposits. All of the 
layers were accumulated on top of the surface slope, and 
we could not recognise any structures or activities that 

Fig. 9. View oj TB 130. 



TABLE 2. Inventory of lithic artefacts from Layers 2 and 3 of Trench B, TB75. (Microblades in the present 
analysis are defíned as blades with the width less than 10 mm. Fragments are broken flakes or the flakes with no 

clear feature. Core fragments are broken cores.) 

Lithic Inventory 

TB75 TB75 

Trench B Trench B 
Layer 2 Layer 3 

TB130 TB130 

Trench D Trench D 

Layer 2 Layer 3 

debitage pieces 

cortical flakes 
partially-cortical flakes 
non-cortical flakes 


crested flakes 





broken debitage pieces 


crested flakes 





core rejuvenation flakes 

core tablets 

core tablets for microblade cores 
change of orientation flakes 
broken core bottom flakes 
modification flakes of flaking surface 


chips or retouch-flakes 



burin spalis 

edge-rejuvenation flakes of end scrapers 



retouched pieces 

retouched flakes 




retouched small flakes 


retouched blades 



retouched core tablets 


notched pieces 


notched blades 


notched pointed blades 


backed blades 



pointed small flakes 








transversal scrapers 







steep scrapers 




thumb-nail scrapers 








ušed obsidian pressure micro-blades 


retouched small flakes 



retouched blades 



notched small flakes 






thumb-nail scrapers 


broken retouched pieces 



microlithic tools 

retouched microblades 

notched microblades 


atypical lunates 



broken microlithic tools 

retouched microblades 
inversely-retouched microblades 
notched microblades 

percussion-flaked cores 

pressure-flaked cores 

irregular cores for 1 3 

conical cores for flakes 
prismatic cores for blades 
conical cores for m 4 

semi-conical cores for microbla 
cylindrical cores for microblade: 











pyramidal cores for microblades 
prismatic cores for microblades 








core fragments 










levelled the slope. These layers, especially the lowest 
one, produced a large amount of lithic artefacts. 

IV. 2. Trench C 

A 2 x 1 m. trench sunk into the terrace 2 m. south of 
Trench B, at an altitude of 1831-1831.5 m. The 
thickness, inclination, and characteristics of the cultural 
deposits are quite similar to those of Trench B. 
Moreover, the characteristics and composition of the 
lithic artefacts are very similar. 

trench, we could not determine the shape of the feature. 
However, the northern edge of the floor seemed to be 
fringed with a row of large limestones. The floor surface 
is very rough, and it was probably ušed for working 
purposes, such as butchering or cooking, rather than for 
habitation. This stone floor was discovered in the third 
layer beneath the slope surface. All of these layers 
produced similar kinds of chipped stones. The thickness 
and characteristics of these three layers are also similar 
to those of Trenches B and C. As we stopped digging at 
the stone floor level, we did not reach virgin soil in 
Trenches D-E. 

IV 3. Trenches D and E 

Trench D was sunk into the terrace 4 m. east of Trench 
B. Therefore, the altitude of this trench is almost the 
samé as that of Trench B. As we encountered part of a 
stone floor in this trench, another 2 x 1 m. trench, Trench 
E, was dug just north of Trench D. These two trenches 
formed one 2 x 2 m. trench. About 0.5 m. below the 
surface, a rough stone floor pavěd with many angular 
limestone pebbles was revealed (Figs 11 and 14). The 
section shows that this stone floor was laid down on a 
slightly levelled slope. As the floor extended out of the 

IVA. Cultural Finds 

As mentioned above, all of these trenches, except 
Trench A, produced a considerable number of lithic 
artefacts (N = 3419; see Table 1). The inventory of lithic 
artefacts from layers 2 and 3 of Trench D is shown in 
Table 2. The differences between the trenches and layers 
are quite small, and it can be said that the lithic artefacts 
of every layer belong to the samé industry. 

Microblades (Fig. 15: 1-5) are the most numerous 
artefact category among the chipped stone industry. As 
for retouched tools, small scrapers, including side- 



Fig. 10. Morphological map ofTB130. 



Fig. 11. Stone floor discovered in Trenches D-E at TB130. 

Fig. 12.ShelterofTB130. 






Surface layer 




Fig. 13. Eastern section of Trenek B at TB130. 

serapers, end-serapers, steep-serapers and thumbnail- 
serapers (Fig. 15: 6-11) are the most common. Backed 
blades (Fig. 15: 12), geometrie microliths including 
lunates and trapezoids (Fig. 15: 13-15), notches (Fig. 15: 
16) and burins (Fig. 15: 17) were also recognised among 
the tools. Single platform conical, pyramidal and 
prismatic microblade cores were discovered in consider- 
able numbers (Fig. 16: 1-6), and core rejuvenation flakes 
such as core tables (Fig. 16: 7-8) were also numerous. 
Besides the lithic artefacts, a few potsherds were also 
recovered. Trench B produced 14 sherd fřagments. Four 
of them are probably Neolithic potsherds, including one 
typical Mushki painted ware rim sherd with light brown 
fabric, straw temper, painted in black on red slip. The 
other three Neolithic sherds are coarse plain ware. The 
other sherds are much later specimens. Trench C 
produced 22 sherds. Some Lapui red sherds were recog- 
nisable among them. These are rim and body sherds with 
buff-orange fabric, sand-tempered, red-slipped, and 

burnished on both surfaces. Most of the other potsherds 
are historie and modern specimens. Trenches D-E did 
not produce any potsherds. Almost all of the potsherds 
discovered in Trenches B and C came fřom the surface 
and upper two layers. Compared with the number of 
lithic artefacts, the number of potsherds recovered is 
extremely small. Moreover, on the basis of the relative 
dating of all of the materiál, this portery, even the Mushki 
specimen, must dáte to a period later than all of the lithic 
artefacts. As with the materiál from TB75 Trench B, it 
seems likely that the upper layers at TB130 Trenches B 
and C that contain a mixture of portery and lithic materiál 
háve been re-deposited from higher up the slope. It is 
possible that the lithics from the layers without portery 
could also háve been re-deposited. However, it is notable 
that there is consistency in the lithic assemblages from 
the aceramic levels in each trench. This suggests that the 
lithic materiál from these lower layers may represent a 
coherent assemblage. 





Surface layer 



Fig. 14. Stone floor and western section ofTrenches D-E at TB130. 




5 cm 


Fig. 15. Lithic artifacts from TB130 (1-5: Trenek B — layer 4, 6: Trenek D — layer 2, 7-8: Trenek C — layer 2, 9: Trenek 
B — layer 3, 10-11: Trenek B — layer 4, 12: Trenek B — layer 2, 13: Trenek C — layer 4, 14-15: Trenek E — layer 2, 16: 

Trenek C — layer 3, 1 7: Trenek D — layer 2). 



5 cm 

Fig. 16. Lithic artifacts from TB130 (1, 3: Trenek D — layer 3, 2: Trenek D — layer 2, 4-5: Trenek B — layer 4, 6: 
Trenek D — layer 3, 7: Trenek D — layer 2, 8: Trenek B — layer 4). 





In this section we summarise the techno-typology of 
the lithic artefacts unearthed at TB75 and TB130 in the 
2005 fíeld season. A hypothetical placement of these 
lithic artefacts into the lithic industries of the 
surrounding regions is also proposed. The lithic 
artefacts from TB75 amount to 1,853 specimens and 
include 769 fragmentary pieces, and those from TB130 
amount to 3,419 specimens including 896 fragmentary 
pieces (Table 1). The raw materiál for these lithic 
artefacts is chert-like flint, varying in colour from dark- 
brown to green. There are no examples of sheen- 
bearing pieces. Besides the flints, very few obsidian 
microblades are visible among the lithic artefacts. The 
characteristics and all attributes of these lithic artefacts 
from both sites are similar to each other. Based on the 
typology and technology of the artefacts found in the 
earliest layers at each site, it is likely that both 
assemblages belong to the samé chipped stone industry 
and dáte roughly to the samé period. Therefore, we will 
discuss the characteristics of both lithic assemblages 
together. The largest of all the specimens unearthed is 
an "initial" core, measuring 47 mm. in length, 24 mm. 
in width and 24 mm. in thickness. The size of this 
largest specimen strongly suggests that the manufacture 
of lithic artefacts at the sites was initiated based on the 
use of small sized raw materiál. 

Complete specimens (unfragmented) total 3,607. 
They are classified into débitage, core rejuvenation 
flakes, chips or retouched flakes, retouched pieces and 
cores (Table 2). The débitage, defmed as intentional 
flake products of core reduction, are classified into 
cortical flakes, partially-cortical flakes and non-cortical 
flakes, the last of which are further classified into flakes, 
blades and microblades. The core rejuvenation flakes 
consist of core tablets (Fig. 16: 7-8), core bottom flakes, 
flakes removed from the flaking surface of cores, and 
change of orientation flakes. The chips are defmed as 
byproduct flakes, and the retouch-flakes are derived 
from retouch modifícation. It is rather difficult to differ- 
entiate between these two categories unless they are 
refitted. Included in the retouch-flakes are burin spalls 
and edge-rejuvenation flakes of end-scrapers. The 
retouched pieces consist of tools and/or weapons such as 
backed pieces (Fig. 15: 12), notched pieces (Fig. 8: 6, 
Fig. 15: 16), side-scrapers, end-scrapers (Fig. 8: 8), 

steep-scrapers (Fig. 15: 7-11), thumbnail-scrapers (Fig. 
8: 9) and burins (Figs 8: 7, 15: 17). Most of these 
retouched pieces are very small, and many of them can 
be classified as microliths, that is, backed, retouched and 
notched microblades. Added to the microblades are 
geometrie microliths of the lunate (Fig. 15: 13-14) and 
trapezoid (Fig. 15: 15) categories, though small in 
quantity. Because not a single micro-burin was 
unearthed, it is almost certain that the geometrie 
microliths were manufactured at both sites by 
retouching on microblades without using the micro- 
burin technique. This suggestion is supported by the size 
of the microblades and the geometrie microliths 
themselves. The absence of the micro-burin technique 
may either indicate its disappearance in the region over 
time or simply implies that this technique did not 
originally exist there. 

Many of the microblades, 2 to 5 mm. in width, bear 
very fine, minuté retouch, probably having resulted 
from use (Figs 8: 1, 15: 3,5). It seems, therefore, that 
they were detached from cores and ušed without retouch 
modifícation. Most of the microblades exhibit 
extremely regular shapes, and the manner to detach 
these microblades from the core was defmitely pressure. 
There are very few traces of cresting, and it seems that 
in most cases microblades were detached following 
ridges on cores left by the removal of cortical flakes at 
the very beginning of core reduction, instead of 
following crest ridges prepared prior to the initial 
detachment of microblades. The shapes of the cores are 
conical, pyramidal and prismatic (Figs. 8: 5, 16: 1-6), 
but interestingly enough not a single example of a 
"bullet" core was unearthed. It is worthy to notě that no 
pressure-flaked blades, very often seen among the later 
Neolithic industries in the region, were unearthed. Also 
noteworthy is the absence of heat treatment, a techno- 
logical choice which seems to háve been adopted in the 
region during the Neolithic period, to improve the 
quality of raw materiál for making tools or weapons by 

In overall features, the lithic materials from the sites 
TB75 and TB130 composed of tool types, such as end- 
scrapers, thumbnail-scrapers, non-geometric microliths 
(retouched, backed, notched microblades) and 
geometrie microliths seem to retain the characteristics of 
the Epi-Palaeolithic Zarzian in the Zagros Mountains, 
best represented at the rock-shelter site of Warwasi in 
West Irán (Olszewski 1993). The Zarzian assemblages 
at Warwasi were analysed by Olszewski, who grouped 



them into four stratigraphical units. According to 
Olszewski, the lithic artefacts commonly seen in these 
units are non-geometric microliths, notch/denticulates, 
and thumbnail-scrapers. Micro-burins appear in Unit 2 
(the second earliest unit) in association with geometrie 
microlithis (Olszewski 1993). Illustrations of blades and 
microblades demonstrate that pressure flaking was not 
employed in their detachment from single-platform or 
opposed-platform cores (Olszewski 1993: 208; Fig. 8: 
1). Contrary to the Zarzian assemblages at Warwasi, 
elaboráte pressure flaking was employed at TB75 and 
TB130 to detach microblades. This is a major techno- 
logical element that differentiates our materials from the 
Zarzian industries. 

Although differences in the artefact inventories 
between TB75 and TB130 are now under study as are 
inter-layer differences, both materials might be 
tentatively placed within the temporal framework 
spanning from the microlith dominated "Zarzian 
tradition" to some part of the "Proto-Neolithic" where 
there was the use of pressure technology. 

For the time being, we do not háve absolute dates 
from our sites and we must také a relative dating 
approach. However, the TB75 and TB130 materials can 
be compared with the "Proto-Neolithic" along the 
Zagros flanks of North Iraq, whose stone industries háve 
been well documented with clear stratigraphy. They are 
represented by those of the open-air sites at Zawi Chemi 
Shanidar, Qermez Dere, Nemrik 9, M'lefaat, Karim 
Shahir and Maghzaliyah. Their artefact inventories are 
outlined below. 

Zawi Chem Shanidar is located in the Shanidar 
valley, on the left bank of the Greater Zab River, north- 
east of Mosul (Solecki 1981). Layer B of this site, dated 
to 8,920 ±300 B.C. by radiocarbon determinations, was 
associated with a circular stone architectural fearure 
measuring 2 m. in diameter, and the lithic artefacts 
consist of backed blades, denticulated pieces, notched 
pieces, truncated pieces, borers, side-serapers, pieces 
esquillées and geometrie microliths of the lunate 
category. Neither sheen-bearing pieces nor micro-burins 
were reported. The published photographs of the cores 
demonstrate that the blades and microblades were not 
detached by pressure. 

Qermez Dere is located in the north- west outskirts of 
the town of Telí Afar west of Mosul (Watkins et al. 
1991). Seven settlement phases confírmed at this site 
were grouped into three stages: the oldest stage (Phases 
7 and 6) must be placed in the transition from the Epi- 

Palaeolithic to the Neolithic periods, the middle stage 
(Phases 5 and 4) without any Epi-Palaeolithic features 
and belongs to the early Pre-Pottery Neolithic period, 
and the youngest stage (Phases 3 and 2) also belongs to 
the early Pre-Pottery Neolithic period. Except for some 
geometrie microliths and micro-burins from the oldest 
stage and the "Nemrik point" from Phase 4 onward, the 
lithic artefacts bear the samé features through all the 
phases, mainly consisting of notched pieces, denticulat- 
ed pieces and Khiam points. The published illustrations 
of the cores (Watkins et al. 1991; Fig. 8: 4) demonstrate 
that pressure flaking was employed to detach blades and 
microblades in the youngest stage at the latest. 

Nemrik 9 is located in the southern part of the Dohuk 
governorate, north-north-west of Mosul. Three 
settlement phases confírmed at this site were placed in 
the Pre-Pottery Neolithic period. Radiocarbon dates 
pláce the oldest phase to the ninth millennium B.C., the 
middle phase to the eighth millennium, and the youngest 
phase to the end of the eighth millennium through the 
first half of the seventh Millennium B.C. (Kozlowski 
and Kempisty 1990: 349-50). The lithic artefacts show 
essentially the samé features throughout the settlement 
phases, that is, retouched blades, end-serapers, tanged 
points called "Nemrik" points and microliths such as 
backed microblades. Neither geometrie microliths nor 
micro-burins are reported (Kozlowski and Szymczak 
1990). It is stated that the blades were detached with the 
aid of punches in the oldest phase and that they were 
detached by pressure from the middle phase onward 
(Kozlowski and Kempisty 1990: 350) 

M'lefaat is located north-east of the Tigris-Greater 
Zab junction on the west bank of the river Khazir, east 
of the plain of Mosul (Dittemore 1983). Lithic artefacts 
such as notched pieces, microblades with use-nibbled 
edges, serapers and perforators were unearthed from 
three stone made floors, 4 x 3 m. in area. These floors 
were dated to between 8,900 and 8,600 B.C. (Howe 
1983: 130-3 1). Neither geometrie microliths nor micro- 
burins are reported. Parallel ridges and edges, and 
consistent width of the microblades, demonstrate that 
pressure flaking was employed to detach the 
microblades at this site (Dittemore 1983: 673-74). 

Karim Shahir is located east of Chemchemal in the 
province of Kirkuk (Howe 1983). An enormous amount 
of lithic artefacts were unearthed from a single 
oceupation floor composed of stone pavement and pits 
in the area of 500-600 m. 2 . This floor was dated to 
between 8,900 and 8,600 B.C. (Howe 1983: 130-31). 



The lithic artefacts consist of backed microblades, drills, 
end-scrapers, side-scrapers, obliquely truncated pieces 
and many notched pieces. Because geometrie microliths 
of true category were not included, the micro-burins 
fřom this site are considered as the by-products from the 
manufacture of obliquely truncated pieces, unrelated to 
the micro-burin technique. Most of the blade or 
microblade cores are conical in shape, and their 
published illustrations (Howe 1983: fígs 20, 21) 
demonstrate that elaboráte pressure flaking was 
employed to detach microblades. 

Maghzaliyah is located some 12 km. west of Telí 
Afar (Bader 1993). Strata 2 to 4 yielded several 
rectangular houses. The lithic artefacts are made on 
obsidian, except in the uppermost Stratům 4 with flint 
artefacts slightly inereasing. These lithic artefacts bear 
almost the samé features throughout the strata, 
consisting of serapers, end-scrapers, borers, tanged 
points, large flakes ušed unhafted as siekle blades, and 
segmented blades to be inserted into sickles. Geometrie 
microliths are very rare. Blade cores are conical in shape 
or "bullet-shaped". Very regular flake scars on the cores 
demonstrate that the blades were elaborately detached 
by pressure flaking. 

Apart from the "Proto-Neolithic" of North Iraq 
briefly reviewed above, important materiál, comparable 
to TB75 and TB130 materiál, was recently reported 
from the Zagros Mountains in the province of Luristan, 
West Irán. Roustaei and others carried out Palaeolithic 
surveys there, and they published a report which 

mentioned the Vare Zard site complex, a series of rock- 
shelters with a scatter of Epi-Palaeolithic and "Proto- 
Neolithic" artefacts extending for more than 200 m. 
along the site complex on a cliff slope (Roustaei et al. 
2004). Although these artefacts were collected during 
surveys and not acquired through excavation, they 
seem to show a defmite stone industry. Illustration of 
the selected artefacts of this site complex interestingly 
shows a strong similarity with our materials, both being 
characterised by notched blades/microblades, end- 
scrapers, borers and side-scrapers. Blades and 
microblades were elaborately detached with parallel 
ridges and edges, and microblades at least were 
detached by pressure flaking. Some of the conical 
microblade cores with regular flake scares can be 
considered "bullet" cores (Roustaei et al. 2004: 705, 

eg. ii). 

In Fars province, especially the Marv Dasht plain, 
many Palaeolithic cave sites háve been discovered. 
Some of them, such as Eshkaft-e Gavi, were excavated 
(Rosenberg 1985), and the Upper Palaeolithic lithic 
assemblage was roughly detected. Epi-Palaeolithic 
caves were extensively surveyed in the Marv Dasht 
plain, and at least 1 1 cave sites, including a large cave 
site named "KMC", produced typical latě Zarzian lithic 
assemblages (Rosenberg 2003). 

Many Portery Neolithic tappehs háve now been 
excavated, in Fars province especially again in the Marv 
Dasht plain. The excavations at the sites, such as Tal-i 
Mushki and Jari B, revealed the earliest phases of the 

TABLE 3. A Hypothetical Placement of the TB Sites in the "Proto-Neolithic" of the Zagros Flanks on the Basis of 
Presence of Geometrie Microliths and Pressure Flaking of Microblades (modified from Ohnuma 1997: fig. 5). 



Micro-burin technique -> < Epi-Palaeolithic Period > 

Zawi Chemi Shanidar 
Qermez Dere Phase 7 
Qermez Dere Phase 6 

Geometrie microliths 

Qermez Dere Phase 5 

Qermez Dere Phase 4 Nemrik 9 Oldest Phase <- 

Qermez Dere Phase 3 Nemrik 9 Middle Phase 
Qermez Dere Phase 2 Nemrik 9 Youngest Phase 

TB75 and TB130 

• • • • Pressure flaking of microblades 
M'lefaat Karim Shahir 


< Pottery Neolithic Period > 



Portery Neolithic period in the samé region (Fukai et al 
1973; Masuda 1986). Re-excavations on these early 
Portery Neolithic sites háve recently focused on chrono- 
logical clarifications (ex. Alizadeh et al 2004; Alizadeh 
2006). Some newly investigated Portery Neolithic sites, 
such as Toll-e Bashi and Kushk-e Hezar (Abdi et al 
2003, Alden et al 2004) háve also shed new light on this 
phase. The latě Zarzian lithic assemblage collected at 
"KMC" consists of geometrie microliths, such as 
lunates, curved backed bladelets, scalenes and quadrilat- 
eral pieces, end-serapers and thumbnail-scrapers with 
many blades and blade cores (Rosenberg 2003). The 
lithic assemblage discovered from Tal-i Mushki, the 
earliest Portery Neolithic site in this region, consists of 
blades, denticulations, notched blades, lunates, 
trapezoids, serapers, borers and others. Many siekle 
elements were also included in this assemblage (Fukai et 
al 1973). 


Taking all of the forgoing matters into consideration, we 
tentatively pláce the lithic artefacts from Sites TB75 and 
TB130 to some point in the "Proto-Neolithic" 
framework of the Zagros mountains: particularly close 
to the Qermez Dere Phases 5 and 4, Nemrik 9 Oldest 
Phases, and perhaps M'lefaat and Karim Shahir, on the 
basis of the presence of geometrie microliths and 
pressure flaking of microblades (Table 3). This is 
primarily due to the generál characteristics of the lithic 
artefacts, i.e. the existence of the pressure flaking 
technique, the absence of the micro-burin technique, 
and the absence of siekle elements. This is an indication 
of the existence of a transitional phase to the Neolithic 
societies in the Eastern Zagros. 

Some attributes of the lithic assemblages of TB75 
and TB130 are common to those of the latě Zarzian, and 
some other attributes are common to those from 
Mushki. Despite this, the differences are much greater 
than the similarities between these assemblages, 
suggesting that the TB75 and TB130 assemblages are 
coherent in and of themselves. As mentioned at the 
beginning of this report, the transition between the end 
of the Epi-Palaeolithic and the beginning of the Portery 
Neolithic remains as a strange hiatus in the eastern 
Zagros, and no other lithic assemblages identical to 
those of TB75 and TB130 háve yet been found in the 
eastern Zagros. We must progress with this project to the 

next step in order to determine how the Eastern Zagros 
might háve played a role in this important transition just 
as the western Zagros region did. 


We are grateful to Dr Masoud Azarnoush, the former 
director of the Iranian Center for Archaeological 
Research, for his kind permission and considerations to 
our project. We also offer appreciation to Dr Hasan 
Fazeli, the present director of ICAR. Mr Karim 
Alizadeh, Ms Mojgan Seyedin and other staff of the 
ICAR are always so helpful in allowing us to execute 
our project. The local authority at Pasargadae, especially 
Dr Mohamad Talebian, Director of the Parsa- 
Pasargadae Research Foundation, offered us every 
convenience possible. Financial assistance for the 
research expenses of our project was provided by ICAR. 
We are also grateful to the Japan Society for the 
Promotion of Science which supported the travel 
expenses of the Japanese members. 


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